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PaulFeagan9
Participant

Thomson Airlines – London Gatwick – Funchal, Madeira

Thomson operate a one-class 737-800 on this route – flight time is about three and a half hours. It is possible to pre-book seats for a fee, but only the first row offers any value. All 32 rows are arranged as 3-3 so there’s no option for couples wanting to pay for a combined aisle and window configuration.

Outbound (row 28):
We used the ‘night-before’ check in – something that I think Virgin first invented and really useful. So in the morning we already had boarding passes. Gatwick security seems to have improved and we were through quite quickly.

Legroom was acceptable for a charter flight, seat width was a little tight.

All food and drinks were chargeable. Prior to trolley service, the flight attendants walked the aisle and asked if anyone wanted to order a hot panini. We ordered one. The trolley service commenced but it was another hour before the panini arrived; by that time many passengers who had ordered the same were complaining.

There was a permanent line for the bathroom throughout the flight. The rear section had two bathrooms.

Upon (early) arrival, passengers were disembarked by the front and rear doors onto a bus. Passport control was quite fast as was baggage delivery.

Inbound (row 2):

Check in was a little slow, although there were five desks available. Security and passport control were reasonably fast. Only one cafe and one shop after passport control and no lounge evident.

A bus delivered passengers to the aircraft. Boarding was by the front and rear stairs.

Prior to departure, the crew walked through the cabin spraying insecticide. Passengers were assured that this was harmless. I’ve never seen this happen before, even when returning from Asia. I’m guessing that one spray won’t harm anyone, but I wonder what cumulative effect this has on the crew. Something for their union to consider. Still anything that kills bugs is a plus.

All food and drinks were chargeable. This time there wasn’t a question about hot paninis and we didn’t ask for one after the outbound experience. We’d also purchased some really good quality sandwiches from the cafe just near the departure gate. As this was the return, I could see that many passengers were hoping to use their left-over Euros for on-board purchases. This was possible, but the smallest denomination accepted was a 1 Euro coin. I saw one person’s purchase converted to EUR6.03 and they had to pay 7 Euros. The exchange rate didn’t look to good either. We used sterling for drinks.

There was one bathroom at the front and this wasn’t very busy – not sure why the outbound rear bathrooms were so busy.

On arrival, passengers disembarked via the front door and an air bridge. I’d recommend assistance for elderly passengers as we walked over a kilometre to passport control. Baggage arrived reasonably quickly.

Overall, not a bad experience – although my expectations weren’t high to begin with.